Posts Tagged With: living with congenital cardiac issues

Day 1106: Jaw Dropping Rare Photos of Amazing Things in Real Life

The jaw dropping rare title of this post mimics “click-bait” language I saw yesterday, online.  For me, language like that might invite a click in real life, but here’s the amazing thing: I immediately forget about it.

Let’s see if all the photos I took yesterday are “jaw dropping rare photos of amazing things in real life.”









Which of those best fits today’s title, for you?

Jaw dropping gratitude for everything I experienced yesterday and for another day of amazing real life, here and now.

Here’s one more photo I’m adding now, from the internet, in honor of a jaw dropping rare amazing person from real life:


Mandatory Credit: Photo by Richard Young/REX (100574d) David Bowie DAVID BOWIE AT THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL – 1983

Categories: gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Day 974: It bugs me

It bugs me that the two plants in my office —  where I do individual and group psychotherapy — have bugs.

It probably doesn’t bug you that you can’t see those bugs, a/k/a soil gnats. It bugs me that I’ve been trying for weeks to get rid of those bugs, which look like tiny fruit flies, to no avail.

It bugs me that I bought this “natural” bug spray at Whole Foods Market:

…and when I tried to use it, according to directions …

… that resulted in …

… buggy directions I couldn’t read, at all.

It bugs me when I can’t follow directions, no matter how hard I try.

It bugs me that what I could read in the directions — including many warnings about usage for bugs — indicated that Anti-Pest-O might bug eyes, lungs and other parts of non-bugs. So, I decided to bug neither my patients nor myself and I did not spray that bug spray in my buggy office.

It bugs me when I can’t use a product that others have bugged me to buy. It bugs me to have to return ANYTHING to any store, buggy or otherwise.

It bugs me that spraying the bugs with soapy water (not pictured) hasn’t worked, despite my being bugged by promises that it would.   It bugs me a lot less to battle bugs with something as benign and straightforward as soapy water, but those bugs have seemed totally unbugged (and perhaps a tad brightened) when I’ve bugged them with soapy water.

It bugs me that once I allow myself to be bugged, lots of other things can bug me, too.

For example, litter left behind by buggy Bostonians bugged me yesterday.


Buggy marketing schemes and slogans bugged me, too.

Other directions I couldn’t understand bugged me.

Things that slowed me down bugged me (and others).


Yes, I can be cross here, there, and everywhere, when I’m feeling bugged.

Would it bug you if I listed even more things that can bug me, if I’m in a bugged mood?

  • Not being able to photographically capture a big, yellow, beautiful moon.

  • Not understanding how to perfectly operate new technology (including phones and cars).

  • My inability to portray our cat Harley sitting unbugged on a table,  because he always gets bugged and  jumps off (the little bugger).

  • Somebody wearing a graphic t-shirt, one buggy day after declaring he’s bugged by them.

  • Buggy parking rules, around here.

  • Things that make loud noises, like buggy construction projects.

  • Difficult thoughts and feelings that bug people I treat.

  • People I love to bug leaving (not pictured),  like my wonderful and esteemed co-worker Mary, this week.
  • My not being a good baker and therefore needing to end this blog post early, to pick up sweets for a going-away party for Mary today.
  • Having to leave work early today to bug my dentist about some fillings  that have been bugging me.
  • My sleep apnea machine, with yet another mask that’s been bugging me.

  • Having so many cardiac-related tests and appointments scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at a hospital (where they treat lots of different types of bugs), that several doctors, medical technicians and I will be bugging each other for about four hours.
  • Getting bugged by buggily insignificant decisions, like which sign-in book to use at a 45th high school reunion (which might include bugs, because it’s near the ocean).

  • The automatic and painful assumption that I bug other people, when I really don’t.

After all this bugging, maybe it’s time to de-bug this bug-filled blog post.

One of my patients did NOT bug me, yesterday, when she brought in this:

If you can’t read all those 18 rules of living by the Dalai Lama, please don’t bug me too much about that. I photographed them the best I could, at the end of a long and buggy day.

What music might I bug you with now?

The Beatles are suggesting that we not bug them, in “Don’t Bother Me.”

If anything in this post has bugged you in any way, please bug me about that in a comment, below.

Buggy and bugged thanks to all bugs and humans that helped me write this post and special thanks to you, no matter what bugs — or is bugged by — you, at any time.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Day 875: Identification

Now that I have a new medical device (implanted a few weeks ago), I need to identify myself to others that way, for my own safety. Here’s the temporary identification (ID) card I now carry with me, at all times:

That temporary identification card identifies me as having an Implantable Cardiac Device (ICD). The manual they gave me at my identified hospital identifies me as having a CRT-D (Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy Defibrillator):

For the past 52 years, since the age of 10, I’ve identified myself as having a pacemaker. Part of my identification as a writer at WordPress is reminding people that adjusting to change — including a new identification — takes time. I am reminding myself, now, that it may be a while before I easily use the identifications ICD or CRT-D, about myself.

Part of my identification as a blogger at WordPress is taking photos that focus on different types of identification, like yesterday:                                   

That last photo identifies the reality that identification can sometimes be … confusing. I shall now identify my main question about that: How can one product be unreal AND 100% real at the same time?

If you can identify an answer to that (or anything else), I hope you identify yourself in a comment.

You may have identified — from my previous posts — that my identity also includes sharing music which identifies well enough with the topic. I’ll identify, right now, that I’m having trouble ID-ing an appropriate musical identification today.

What identification song might you identify, for this post?

Well, part of my self-identification, as a human being, is loving the music from West Side Story. Last night, as I was falling asleep, the Boston classical radio station (identified by the call letters WCRB-FM) played Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances” from that musical:

How would you identify your reaction to that?

A little more identification before I identify the end of this post … I just snapped these identifying pictures of Harley:


Michael (whom I identify as my boyfriend) said, “Harley likes to look out the window and watch the world go by.”

Personally, I think Harley is trying to ID some birds.

I shall now identify and thank — for helping me create this Identification post — pacemakers, ICDs, CRT-Ds, Dr. Estes, Belmont Massachusetts, Captain Stephen Frost, pleasant streets everywhere, those who put smiles on others’ faces, unidentified establishments, dogs of any kind, people who see-saw, tennis players, Star Market, flowers,  the real and the unreal, West Side Story, WCRB, Leonard Bernstein,  Harley, birds, Michael, and you — of course! — for identifying with me today, in any way.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Day 768: Are you OK?

A few days ago, at the hospital where I work, it became obvious that it was OK for me to cancel some conference room bookings for my therapy groups. These OK conference rooms had been booked several months ago by Chris, a much-more-than-just-OK administrator in the Social Work Office.  Last week, I realized it would be OK to hold the groups in my office instead of the conference rooms, and I didn’t want to take those OK-ed rooms away from someone who might want to OK them for a different purpose.

I cancelled the bookings by emailing the people at my hospital who OK and un-OK room bookings, and who have the OK title “Service Response.” To make sure this cancellation went OK with no complications, I copied/cc’ed Chris on that email, because I thought Service Response might not OK cancellations without the OK of the person who had booked the room to begin with.

Are you OK with this explanation, so far?

After I cc’ed Chris, I decided that wasn’t OK enough, because I realized Chris might be confused by my email (which I didn’t think was OK) and she also might get KO‘ed by other emails from Service Response. So the OK course of action, I decided, was to write Chris an OK email explaining the situation.

First, I composed a long email. Then, I decided that was NOT OK to send, because wasting Chris’s time would not be OK, since she and everybody else who works at our hospital has too much to do and not enough time to do it. So, instead, I came up with what I thought was an OK solution. I sent Chris an email with this subject heading:

subject: in case you were wondering about that Service Response email I cc:ed you on …

The email itself was very short, an OK three words:

… let me know.

I didn’t hear back from Chris, and I thought:

That was a very OK solution!  I didn’t bother Chris too much and I took care of the possibility of a confusing communication between Chris and Service Response. OK FOR ME!!

Yesterday, I got an equally short email back from Chris:

Are you OK?

I thought that was OK AND hilarious, because:

  • I had spent so much time and energy over-thinking an OK-enough resolution for this trivial situation,
  • It obviously would have been OK for me to do NOTHING (saving Chris and myself some OK time and trouble), and
  • I wasn’t sure how to answer Chris’s question.

Why do you think Chris asked me that OK question? And, what do you think would have been an OK answer back from me, as a serviceable response?

Here’s the email I wrote back to Chris:

I think so.

Do you think that was OK?

Yesterday, I was feeling OK AND not-so-OK because:

  • The outdoor temperature was a non-OK 7 degrees, Fahrenheit.
  • I felt OK enough after walking for more than 30 minutes through that cold, yesterday morning.
  • The weather report OKed a forecast of MORE SNOW over this entire weekend.
  • I feel more OK every day, as I recover from the flu.
  • Jackie — who has helped me feel OK at work for the last three years — wasn’t at the front desk when I walked into work.
  • Two other more-than-OK people WERE at the front desk, and they greeted me with very OK smiles.
  • I’m still waiting for the OK from several different Boston-area cardiologists, regarding lots of recent tests on my I-hope-OK-and-very-unusual heart.
  • I tried my OK best to help people feel more OK about themselves, through my work as a psychotherapist.
  • After another OK week here in MA, my much-more-than-OK son, Aaron, and I will be flying westward to CA, probably over OK, USA:

(Hugh Jackman is OK with me, singing OK, OK! here on YouTube)

Here are some photos I took yesterday, which I hope are OK:

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Judging from all those photos, do you think I’m OK?

Actually, are YOU OK enough, right now, to realize what’s NOT OK about this photo, from yesterday’s post?IMG_5216

There’s a word missing, on that white board. I’m OK to wait, while you look again.

Are you OK, right now? If you saw that photo in yesterday’s post and missed the missing word, are you OK with that? Was I OK when I wrote “There’s something with me” on that whiteboard, two days ago in my office?  Is it OK or not OK that I left out the word “wrong”? Nobody in the therapy group mentioned it. Were they OK?

Whether you think all these questions and the rest of this post is OK, here’s another OK song on YouTube.

This Annie is OK with that version of “Smooth Criminal” performed by cast members from Glee. And here‘s the original Smooth Criminal, MJ, performing that OK song live from Munich:

What is OK and not OK with you, in this OK post? Annie will be OK with whatever you write, below.

And one more OK thought, before I end this post:

Last night, my soon-to-be-17-year-old son, Aaron, looked at yesterday’s post AND the draft of this post and told me that my blog is … OK!!!

More-than-OK thanks to Aaron, to Chris, to OK OK, and to every person, place and thing that contributed to ME being OK with this post today … including YOU, for reading it!

Categories: blogging, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Day 759: We go on

This post may go on for a while, since there was a lot going on yesterday.

The first thing I needed to do yesterday — after going on about tests in this blog post — was to go on into work.

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As you can see, we are going on — in Boston, Massachusetts USA —  despite quite the blizzard.

Penny the Pen …


goes on adventures with me these days. That chair is where my patients usually sit as we go on, in therapy sessions,  about many important issues. Yesterday, the hospital-based primary care practice where I go on practicing individual and group psychotherapy was closed down, due to all the snow that had gone on the day before.

We go on with the support of competent, caring people, don’t you think? Where I work, one of those people is Chris.


Chris is one of those people who cares so much that she’ll go on into work even when the practice is closed. In that photo, you can see her hands going on about their business, as I went on taking that photo in her office.

Soon after I took that photo, I told Chris I had to go on to a scheduled cardiac test at Children’s Hospital, across the street.

I’ll go on, briefly now,  about that scheduled cardiac CT scan. My doctors — who I tend to go on about in this blog (like here, here, and here) — prefer to go on solid data about my very unusual heart, as we make some difficult decisions about heart surgery. The cardiac CT scan, going on at hospitals near me, should help with that (especially for a heart like mine, which goes on despite a backwards design).

Here are some photos of me going on to the cardiac CT scan at Children’s Hospital, yesterday:

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It takes courage for me to go on through those doors, since scary and painful things were going on around me in that hospital, when I was growing up.

We go on healing, throughout our lives, from painful experiences when we were younger. For me, returning to old places, in a new way, helps, as does taking photos as I go on:

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Kind and competent people helped me go on through that unfamiliar test, yesterday.


Melissa and I are going on, there, about a new device that helps her find a good-enough vein for the CT scan. Because Melissa did not believe that she was photogenic (even though I went on about how untrue that was), I used Penny as a stunt double for her:


Melissa and Del (not pictured) got the needle and the IV to go on through my vein like it was supposed to.


Shall we go on, in this story, to the cardiac CT scan room?

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We Bostonians — whether we’re adults, children, patients, or treaters — do go on about the Red Sox.

I shall go on, now, and  introduce you to Kara


… who is standing next to her portrait in the CT scan room’s giant mural.  Kara’s story about that mural reminded me that we go on, despite tragedies in our lives. The mural was designed by a man whose sister had died young, and he used her huge vinyl record collection to create the images on the wall.

Kara showed me how one co-worker, because of where she’s located in the mural, gets teased about having a split personality:


I could go on and on about the kindness of Kara and Melissa, who took care of me with heated blankets during the CT scan procedure and ginger ale and snacks after it was all over:


That was my first ginger ale in about 50 years! When I was a kid at Children’s Hospital, ginger ale was the only drink they had going on there, and I haven’t been able to stomach it since … until I decided to try it again, yesterday.

We go on, when we try things with a new perspective. That ginger ale tasted delicious.

After the cardiac CT scan, I had to go on to more tests at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, nearby.

I passed by this room, at Children’s Hospital


dedicated to the cardiologist who helped my parents and me go on, when I was born with congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries.

Before I go on too long about my Day of Tests yesterday,  here’s a photo I quickly snapped of the Pulmonary Functioning Test (PFT) Lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital:


After that test, I went down to the lobby of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and saw this:


A memorial — created by his co-workers — to Michael J. Davidson, the cardiac surgeon who was shot and killed last week.



We go on, as best we can.


I then went on home, as Pat Metheny’s “We Go On” played in my headphones.

(“We Go On” is going on at YouTube, here and now.)

As usual, music I love helped me go on, and I saw all this:

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Many thanks to Chris, Melissa, Del, Kara, Dr. Nadas, Dr. Michael Davidson, Pat Metheny, and all the kind people who have helped me go on in my life — including you, for visiting me here today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Day 754: Réparation

For the first time in these Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally, the title of the post is in French!

And, for the second time in these Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally, the title of a post appears on a shampoo bottle. Here’s the first time, from a recent trip to New York City, co-starring my friend Deb:


Here’s the second time, co-starring Penny the Pen:


The topic of this post is reparative experiences, which I THINK is what réparation means. If réparation does not mean what I think it means, my excuse is: “I don’t speak French!”

Yesterday, I had a reparative experience.  I returned to a hospital where I had my first Transesophageal Echo (TEE) several years ago, when I was recovering from a mild bout of endocarditis. (I say “mild bout of endocarditis” because I guessed I had endocarditis very early on and we were able to treat it with antibiotics before my heart suffered any damage needing réparation.)

That first TEE experience, years ago, was awful for me.  When I’ve described it to nurses and other people in the know, they have offered this suggestion for réparation:

Maybe you weren’t sedated enough, that time.  Maybe they did the TEE without enough drugs.

That didn’t make sense to me, since I have such trust in my doctors and the hospital where I receive my medical care.

So, I had a lot of fear about yesterday’s TEE.

How did I seek réparation for that fear, yesterday morning?

  • I made sure to ask for help, from my trusted friend Carol, who generously agreed to drive me to the TEE procedure, to spend as much time as she could with me during the TEE, and to drive me back home afterwards.
  • I wrote this here post, while I was waiting for Carol to arrive.
  • I took some photos, to distract myself, after I finished yesterday’s post:


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One reparative thought, while I was taking those photos:

An apple a day keeps the doctor away!

However, I couldn’t eat that apple, because I had stopped all water and food intake the midnight before, as necessary (p)réparation for the procedure.  And sure enough, doctors were NOT kept away.

On the drive to the TEE, Carol and I saw this:


We saw that license plate with the initials JW, just as we were discussing our mutual friend Jeanette W (who has appeared in this other reparative post about an NYC visit).

I didn’t take any other réparation photos on the way to the TEE, because I was too nervous. Why?

  • I was on my way to having my second TransEsophageal Echocardiogram, people!
  • We were running a little late, and
  • As I was calling the echo lab to let them know we would be a little late, Carol got on the Massachusetts Turnpike IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.

Because being with Carol is a reparative experience no matter what is happening, we both survived that, quite nicely.

Here are some non-reparative experiences that happened on my way to my TEE, that I also survived:

  1. Because I was already 20 minutes late, I had Carol drop me off at an entrance I thought would provide a reparative short-cut to the location of my test.
  2. That entrance to the hospital, which used to provide the réparation of open access, was now reparatively or non-reparatively closed to the general public.
  3. I got somebody to reparatively buzz me into that entrance.
  4. That entrance, in réparation to something I could not understand, no longer provided direct access to the building where the TEE was taking place.
  5. People there, in réparation, gave me directions to the location of the test, which happened to be in the most confusing spot in the hospital.
  6. For whatever reason, I got temporarily lost in a hospital where I have had many réparations over the course of many years.
  7. The repáration “short-cut” involved more time, multiple stairs, and several elevators.

When I finally arrived at the echo lab, I suggested to the nice staff person there — as possible réparation — that perhaps I was TOO LATE TO HAVE THE TEST?!?!

No such luck.  Temporarily losing track of my hospital registration card also did NOT provide my fantasy réparation of cancelling the test, either.

I then called Carol, in (p)réparation of the distinct possibility that she might get lost trying to find me. I reached her, right after she parked her car, and gave her reparative directions.

Let’s see if I took any more réparation photos, before the beginning of the TEE …


That’s Gina, who was my nurse for the procedure.  However, this post needs some réparation, here and now. I took that photo AFTER the TEE, not before it.

In any case, here’s what I want to tell you about Gina, who provided much réparation for yesterday’s TEE experience:

  1. Gina suggested a theory for why my first TEE was so awful: I have naturally low blood pressure, which probably required less sedation than usual. Sedation lowers blood pressure further, so standard sedation, that first time, might have required serious réparation.
  2. Gina took my blood pressure yesterday before the procedure started and it was unusually high, probably because of all the non-reparative experiences I had on the way to the TEE.
  3. Gina — as you can see in that photo  — is a New York Yankees fan working in a Boston hospital, which may or may not need réparation, depending on your perspective.

In case my post is confusing you in any way at this point, allow me to provide some réparation:

I got the standard amount of sedation yesterday for my TransEsophageal Echocardiogram, and it was MUCH EASIER.

Here are some more réparation photos I took yesterday, after I had recovered sufficiently from the TEE:


That’s Gina’s hand, holding my tee shirt. Get the pun,* people?


That’s Carol, with her beautiful smile. Get the pun,* people?

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That last photo shows these réparations:

  1. I’m home.
  2. I’ve removed all those friggin’ little leftovers of cardiac tests.

Here’s some repáration music I’ve been listening to lately, thanks to reparative blogging experiences provided here by Maria F., Mark Bialczak, coffeegrounded, and Maureen:

What do you think about all these réparations?

Thanks and réparations to Carol, Gina, Penny, the doctor and the cardiology fellow who also conducted my TEE (not pictured), Deb, Jeanette, Maria F., Mark Bialczak, coffeegrounded, Maureen, and everybody everywhere who has ever provided reparative experiences for anybody else, including you, of course!

* If my boyfriend Michael or anybody else who dislikes puns reads this post, I cannot offer any réparation.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Day 749: Brave enough

Here’s something I’m often brave enough to ask when I’m facilitating a therapy group:

Who is brave enough to get us started?

Who is brave enough to get us started, here and now, dear readers?  I guess it’s  … me!

Are you brave enough to come along?

Right after I published yesterday’s post, which included this photo


… I was brave enough to take a closer look at the face of Penny the Pen, despite my fear of what I might see.


Eeeek!  It seems like Penny — by accompanying me on my adventures since the New Year — has experienced some assault and battery to her face. I’m glad she is brave enough to keep smiling.

Because I’m so sensitive to facial expressions, I wanted to immediately fix Penny’s face yesterday morning. But I wasn’t sure  I was skilled, steady, or brave enough to do so.

I had the equipment.


That’s a permanent marker, so I wasn’t brave enough to use it, at first. However, other non-permanent solutions (like pencils and pens) did not make a mark, at all.

After taking a deep breath, I was brave enough to use that permanent Sharpie to draw in Penny’s eyebrow.

Are you brave enough to look?


I’m brave enough to brag that I did a good-enough job on Penny’s eyebrow.   I haven’t been brave enough, so far, to attempt repairing her eye.

Are you brave enough to vote about what to do about Penny’s eye, in the comments below?  Here are the options I am brave enough to see, at the moment:

  1. I become brave enough to draw a new eye for Penny, despite the risks of drawing something that  might look weird, permanently.
  2. I become brave enough to let Penny stay as she is now, reframing and re-seeing her expression as a friendly wink.
  3. I become brave enough to let somebody else do the repair, who is more skilled and experienced than I.

Right now, I am brave enough to see some parallels there between Penny’s face and my unusual heart (which may need some fixing in the near future, too).

What else do I want to tell you, today, about “Brave Enough”?

Yesterday, I was brave enough to do 7 miles on my brand new, pink elliptical!

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I watched the movie Muscle Shoals while I was brave enough to log all those mile yesterday. Here are some photos I was brave enough to take, along the way.


That’s the hospital where singer Percy Sledge was brave enough to work and to sing for the patients, before he was brave enough to create his first record —  “When A Man Loves A Woman” —  at  a music studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, USA.

Here’s Percy Sledge, bravely singing that song (found here on YouTube) from his heart and soul:

When I was brave enough to reach this distance on my elliptical:


I saw the brave man we are honoring in the USA today.

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A few miles after seeing Martin Luther King, Jr., I saw another personal hero, who grew up in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

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That’s Helen Keller (who previously appeared in this post, which I wrote last May, when I was being brave enough while recovering from pneumonia).

I am now brave enough to recommend the movie Muscle Shoals to you, without reservation.

Here are some more things I am brave enough to tell you, right now:

  1. Last week, I was brave enough to ask someone if I had lost her by expressing some frustration and anger. Her brave answer: “It would be impossible for you to lose me.”
  2. In two days, I will be meeting with my long-time and trusted cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem. I plan to be brave enough to ask him some questions about possible surgical repairs for my very unusual heart AND brave enough to listen to his answers.
  3. I took some photos yesterday of our two cats — Harley and Oscar — who are brave enough to have very different styles, regarding bravery:

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That’s Harley, reacting to my being on the elliptical for the first time, running by as quickly as he can. Here’s Oscar, with more obvious bravery:

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Are you brave enough to stick around for a few more photos I snapped yesterday, at my weekly supermarket shopping with my boyfriend Michael?  Penny stayed home, resting her eye, but I brought along this stand-in


who first appeared in this post I was brave enough to write, last month, after consulting with other cardiologists.

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Oh, and just one more photo, from this morning:


Oscar and Harley are both brave enough to stick by me here. That helps me feel brave enough, today.

Thanks to Martin Luther King Jr., to Helen Keller, to Percy Sledge and the other incredible musicians and producers who’ve worked together at Muscle Shoals studios, to everyone and everything that helped me be brave enough to write this post, and to all those who are brave enough in their own way, every day — including you, of course.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 55 Comments

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